Dairy Processor Valley Queen Cheese Factory highlights key relationships with customers and producers during June Dairy Month

It takes a dedicated network to move milk from farm to fridge safely and efficiently. Thankfully, the dairy industry is made up of such a group of people. 

Among them is Jason Mischel, the Vice President of Sales and Milk Procurement at Valley Queen Cheese Factory.

A Foundation of Trust 

In his role, Mischel oversees procurement policies and the development of markets for Valley Queen’s broad range of dairy products. Since stepping into his position in 2007, Mischel has learned valuable lessons about the industry he serves.  

“I really enjoy both the competition and the camaraderie in the industry,” he said. “Some of our fiercest competitors are also some of our best friends.” 

Mischel has also realized the importance of building trust with Valley Queen’s dairy farm suppliers. 

“We have great relationships with our dairymen, and many of them come from multigenerational dairies,” he said. “We value the level of trust and mutual respect that we have with them. You cannot operate in this business making the investments they do on the farm and the investments we do at our plant without having that great deal of trust.” 

Dedicated to Overcoming Industry Challenges 

For 94 years, Valley Queen has been a privately owned milk processor in Milbank, South Dakota. The plant processes five million pounds of milk daily into cheese, whey, and butterfat products.  

The company is amidst the most significant expansion in its history, hoping to increase throughput from five million pounds of milk to eight million pounds daily. To reach that goal, area producers will add 30,000 cows.  

“It is a very exciting time,” Mischel said. “Not many companies are investing on that scale right now, so we feel very fortunate to be in this position.” 

More Milk in the Plant, More Milk to Haul 

Continued capacity expansion means moving more milk from farms into the Milbank facility every day. On that front, Valley Queen has been committed to hiring and retaining talented haulers. 

“One of the ongoing challenges is hauling milk efficiently so that dairies are not going full, and we are processing milk in a timely manner,” Mischel said. “We are fortunate to have haulers committed to their role.” 

Reinvesting with Ever.Ag 

As a business, Valley Queen has a goal of constant reinvestment in the company. Working closely with customers is one way to make that happen. “We work with customers who tell us what they need, and we will help them by providing those products,” Mischel said. “We try to have equipment we can specialize with and do some things that other large-scale plants cannot.” 

The company’s 30-year relationship with Ever.Ag has proven to be beneficial during reevaluation and reinvesting. 

“Ever.Ag has proven to be a very trusted advisor,” Mischel said. “They are subject area experts. If I need specific help doing hedging, I will call Katie Burgess and Tiffany LaMendola. If I need market insights or research, I call Phil Plourd. If I have a question about our technical solutions, we call Chip Pritchard.”  

Celebrating June Dairy Month  

To recognize June Dairy Month, Valley Queen hosts an annual Cheeseburger Day event. Employees, along with the local FFA chapter and Junior Holstein Association, will serve around 2,800 burgers to the community of Milbank. All proceeds are donated to these youth organizations.  

In addition, when local dairies host open house events for June Dairy Month, Valley Queen provides milk trucks for visitors to learn about the milk hauling industry.  

“I think our dairymen are proud of their farms, and they like to welcome their local community to learn,” Mischel said. “In turn, we like to highlight our producers by putting a good slice of cheese on a burger during our local events.” 

Partnering with Ever.Ag 

If you want to develop strategies to manage risk for your business, gain actionable insights from dairy market analysis, or streamline your dairy supply chain operations with industry-leading technology, please contact us.